HUNGER level in the Philippines has reached its lowest post in 2018 since 2003, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed in its latest survey.
In its December 16 to 18 poll, the SWS showed that the number of Filipinos who experienced "involuntary" hunger in the past three months was down to 10.5 percent or an estimated 2.4 million families from September 2018's 13.3 percent or an estimated 3.1 million families.
Of the 2.4 million families, around 8.9 percent or estimated 2.1 million families experienced "moderate" hunger, while the remaining 1.5 percent or estimated 354,000 families had to endure "severe" hunger.
SWS noted that moderate hunger decreased by 1.7 percentage points, from 10.6 percent in September to 8.9 percent.
Severe hunger also declined to 1.5 percent, down by 1.3 percentage points from September's 2.8 percent.
Moderate and severe hunger levels were at its lowest since June's 8.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
The SWS said the 2.8-percentage-point decrease in the quarterly hunger rate was due to decreases in the incidence of hunger from both poor and non-poor families.
Quarterly hunger among poor families dropped by 3.6 percentage points (14.9 percent from September's 18.5 percent).
Hunger level among non-poor families also decreased in the September to December 2018 period, from 7.6 percent to 6.1 percent.
Hunger was down by 10 percentage points in Mindanao (8.3 percent or estimated 443,000 families from September's 18.3 percent or estimated 975,000 families), and three percentage points in Balance Luzon (9.7 percent or one million families from September's 12.7 percent or 1.3 million families).
The survey, however, noted that hunger incidence rose by three percentage points in Visayas (9.2 percent or estimated 411,000 families from September's six percent or estimated 269,000 families), and by one percentage point in Metro Manila (18.3 percent or estimated 581,000 families from September's 17.3 percent or estimated 549,000 families).
The total hunger rate for the entire 2018 was at 10.8 percent, 1.5 percentage points below 2017's 12.3 percent and the lowest annual hunger score since 2003's seven percent.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace was pleased that the hunger incidence last year was "the lowest figure recorded in 15 years."
Panelo said the improvement in Filipinos' economic status was among the "paramount reasons" why President Rodrigo Duterte "continues to win [their] trust and approval."
"The President’s sincere endeavors, whether in taming inflation or running the bureaucracy, have started to bear fruits," the Palace official said.
"The best is yet to come, as the Chief Executive continues to work double time in the remainder of his term to uplift more Filipino families out of poverty and hunger, towards a more comfortable and prosperous life for all," he added.
Some 1,440 adults Filipinos were interviewed by the SWS, using sampling error margins of ±2.6 percentage points for national percentages, and ±5 percentage points each for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao. (SunStar Philippines)